Memorial Day has been celebrated in different ways as far back as the late 1860s, initially as a way to remember those who fell in the American Civil War.
Since then, there have been all sorts of opportunities to observe the holiday and commemorate those who have given their lives while serving our country.
Many past and current members of the military, their friends and family, and sometimes some of their caregivers traditionally have gathered for public ceremonies on or around this day. These often take place at neighborhood parks or cemeteries. Sometimes, other supporters and loved ones make an effort to clean up veterans’ graves, improve a veteran section of an area cemetery, add or refresh flags on veteran graves or similar community service.
The team at Accredited Home Care encourages people to look for ways to mark the holiday in whatever way they find is safe and is appropriate. For instance, in 2020, some larger-scale public events needed to be canceled or cut back due to concerns about COVID-19.
Some communities improvised and offered innovative and interesting ways to recognize the military, such as car parades, virtual ceremonies, and more.
The need to continue to honor our military members combined with current safety precautions have created all sorts of opportunities for people to creatively share their support and encouragement.
People can go beyond remembering those who lost their lives by thanking anyone who has ever served. Veterans Day in the fall has this purpose, and last year, many public events weren’t able to take place for health reasons.
So, this year is great for recognizing everyone in the military and finding ways to thank them for their overall contributions.
One way to show your support for past members of the military is by becoming a caregiver for them or their family members.
The act of caregiving, whether it’s part of a job or something you do to help important people in your life, can be a way of saying “thanks, you deserve this” for what they experienced during their time in service.
Some ways caregiving services can be offered include:
- Connecting them with additional help. As you get to know them, you’ll learn about their medical conditions and their personality. With this information, you can arrange for them to receive services within our organization such as massage therapy, physical therapy, or occupational therapy. Since there can be multiple people who provide these therapies, you can make recommendations about which therapist will be a good fit. You also can share their information with outside providers.
- Suggest patriotic décor changes. He or she might feel honored if their living space had some new accents, such as little flags and banners. It could be seen from the outside and can announce to neighbors and passersby that a proud veteran lives here.
- Hear their story. Some people will proudly share stories of their services. Others will downplay them if they didn’t think they did anything significant, such as those who served in the military but not in combat zones or war areas. Others also may not want to share many details for personal reasons. Those dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder may not want to relive past memories. In any of these situations, allow the veteran’s reaction to guide you rather than forcing them to share details if they’re less comfortable doing so. (They can also offer highlights too without getting too deep into vivid memories.)
- Look for events taking place. As a caregiver, you can arrange to get them to any local Memorial Day events or ceremonies in your community. Some may still be going on but have COVID restrictions. A local post for Veterans of Foreign Wars or American Legion may host them or suggest where the nearest may be.
- Observe a Moment of Silence. Part of the public Memorial Day ceremonies often includes pausing for a few minutes to acknowledge all those who have died. If you aren’t able to attend in person, you can still observe at home. The time is typically 3 p.m. local time on Memorial Day itself. Taking part can be an enjoyable ritual that can be passed onto family members.
- Give them a card. Whether you pick something out at a card/paper shop or make your own, the gesture can be appreciated. Thank them for their service and wish them well. They may even display the card proudly and bring it out in past years.
- Help other veterans. Organizations such as the American Red Cross do have programs that provide occasional cards to veterans in the general area. If you’ve like to take part, contact the organization. Sometimes they need people to write in the cards and they provide the card and see it is sent to an appropriate person. As an additional activity, invite the person you’re providing care for to create cards for others, either general veterans in their community or specific ones they may know, such as a friend or neighbor. A fellow veteran may be especially happy to assist with the creation and the delivery of these.